‘Once Upon A Time’ 7×21 Review: The Beginning of the End

“Homecoming” is an appropriate title for the penultimate episode of Once Upon A Time. It was sort of a “Homecoming.” We get returns of characters we thought long lost and events you never thought you’d see on OUAT.

Oh, and then there’s the writers joking at their massively complex storylines this season through their own writing. At least they are aware of it. It’s something many a fan – including myself – have been joking about this year.

There’s the question of who deserves a happy ending. I’ve asked this all season in my reviews. Because some characters, while they believe they deserve a happy ever after, do not actually deserve it. Have they done enough good to redeem the evil they were? Not everyone can get a happy ending – and I’m glad the writers made Henry address this.

We all know the theme of the show – that evil is made. It is not something that just is. It must fester and grow. It happened to so many of our characters – Regina, Rumple, Hook, and many more. However, they used this to prove that love in its purest form can save anyone from darkness. That’s what they showed with Rumple and his wish realm counterpart.

Wish Realm Rumple is the pure beast behind it all. The beast Belle never tamed with her love. He says love makes people weak and it’s not needed.

Not true at all.

Love is not a weakness – something many a hero must remember after they get a broken heart. That opening their heart up is a strength and not a weakness. I’ve seen this too many times in TV. Through many of the plots of this very show – but also in shows like Supergirl and Arrow – where our lead character suffers a massive heart break and they shut down emotionally because they don’t want to be hurt again. It’s not a healthy route to go. It can lead to trouble. To darkness.

Over time, Original Rumple has learned to let love in. That love is a strength. It’s not just the love of Belle, but the love of his children, and of his grandson. He had a long journey that unfortunately will always have some darkness – unless he can remove himself from his dagger. He will always be the Dark One – whether he has love or not. It’s something we see Rumple face in this episode as he faces the darkest parts of himself in his wish realm version.

It’s an interesting way the deal with this topic this close to the end of it all that I loved. It runs through the whole show. That love always wins over hate. That it is stronger. There’s a reason in fairy tales that kisses made from true love can break any curse. Love always wins. That’s always the message – not just in fairy tales, but overall. Love can conquer all. True love always wins – and it’s beautiful when it does. The payoff is tear-inducing and beautiful.

This episode is only half of a whole story – there’s more to this story. The tear inducing happy ending hasn’t played out yet. We have ONE MORE EPISODE!

Let’s break it down!

The Crazy Storylines


Ok, so you know the writers are reading the critiques when the script includes a joke about one of the biggest ones for the season. Not just for this episode, but in the previous one as well,  when explaining the curse made them time travel just so the fans buy their timeline screw up. In a scene later in the episode, we see Henry go on a search for the Author’s pen. Somehow, someway it has been lost inside the wish realm and Henry sees a way to use it – since he is THE AUTHOR – to fix the problem Wish Rumple put him in.

What problem? Well, Wish Rumple traps Ella and Lucy in an unbreakable snow globe – with actual falling snow. Wish Rumple is the only one who can remove them – and he doesn’t want to. However – and Henry knows this – he’s warned writing things for his own gain and not because they are part of a story is wrong. But Henry is desperate to save his wife and daughter.

You’d ask why this happens – but it has all to do with a Wish Henry who is bitter. He’s lost his happiness and makes a deal with Wish Rumple to help him find it. In the scheme of it all, Wish Henry writes that Rumple can no longer use a guardian to get off his dagger and die. It’s like a big “screw you” from the Wish Realm to the original versions.

Complicated? Very. I love that the writers can at least joke about it. Because there’s two versions of Henry on screen – played by both Jared and Andrew. If that doesn’t twist your mind – then the Wish Rumple – or the ever-criticized Wish Hook characters should. I’m glad to see Eddy and Adam can at least go out with a sense of whimsy over their crazy complicated plot twist of the century they originally used to protect Captain Swan.

When writers know their plots are crazy and complicated and admit it through their characters – it’s epic, and maybe a bit of a consolation to the fans who criticized them so harshly for it. Yes, it’s complicated to keep up with, but over all it was still a very interesting and riveting season. It had its hits and misses – but all shows do. Nothing can be perfect.

It’s more confusing writing about it than it is watching it. The closer to the end the crazier it gets – it seems.

The Returns


This episode had many of the anticipated returns that were announced for the two-part finale. We got to see characters we’ve loved like Ariel – who helped Rumple and Wish Hook get some squid ink for Rumple’s plan to defeat his much darker Wish Realm version.

Then there’s Peter Pan. When I saw he was returning, I questioned how it was possible. However, him being a Wish Realm version clears it up.

Seriously, every character that returned in this episode was part of the Wish Realm.

Now – Wish Rumple has Peter Pan locked up in his palace as a prisoner. Considering what the real version did in the show – and the issues between these two characters – I’m not shocked by this development.

Then there’s Cruella De Vil, who is Wish Rumple’s personal watch dog. How did he wrangle this? Who knows??? There’s a Henry/Cruella sword fight I never knew I needed. Like, where has this been my whole life?? At least Henry gets something from her and makes her pay for whatever she’s done. He took the black hair dye from her hair and use it as ink for the Author’s pen. Yeah, yeah. Another crazy plot line.

And the Apprentice – who confronts Henry over the Author’s pen.

It’s a varied list of characters brought back in before they say goodbye for good – and many more are on the way next week, like Emma, Snow, and Charming.

How will they work in those characters is the question I’m still asking myself.

Love Conquers All


The overall theme of this show is that love conquers all. That you need love or else evil is born. It festers and it doesn’t make you a good person. Bad things – like curses – can happen. What breaks a curse? None other than true love’s kiss. Every time – it’s always a form of true love that breaks the curse. Whether it’s Snow and Charming, Emma and Henry, Regina and Henry, Henry and Ella, or even Hook and Emma.

True love always wins.

That’s the message the show is using here with the two versions of Rumple. One has found true love through Belle, and is tamed from the beast that he was to a man. He’s reformed. He’s still the Dark One – but he’s gone through some redemption thanks to his love for Belle. She has been his grounding wire through a lot and even after her death – he can conquer the beast because of it.

The Wish Realm version is still the beast within. The untamed part of Rumple. The one who still doesn’t care about others and is selfish. Yes – we’ve seen these tendencies in our Rumple even in this recent season – but compared to the darkness of the wish realm version – he’s almost good. ALMOST.

So – with Ella and Lucy trapped, Henry and everyone else is on a mission to save them. Rumple wants to defeat his darker self. Is this some metaphor the writers are using for this? I’d be impressed if it was. Like Rumple getting off his dagger is him defeating the last of the darkness within him? Whatever that means.

So – how will this happen?

Remember that prophecy from ages ago that Rumple was told that Henry would be his undoing? Well, it seems that this is going to come to pass. How is Henry the undoing of his grandfather? Is this how Rumple can die? I need to see how this goes.

How will Henry save Ella and Lucy?

Deserving a Happy Ending


In this episode, Henry asks Regina, Rumple and Wish Hook, point blank, “Who says everyone deserves a happy ending?

I’ve written this in past reviews. Many times. Not all these characters deserve happy endings. Some just won’t get them. It’s the way it is in these stories. For someone to get the “happy ever after,” some one else doesn’t. It just wouldn’t be all that fun if everyone got the storybook happy ending.

Everyone wants it, but it’s not always cut and dry. This show proves this.

The curse breaks. The memories return. Henry is happy with Ella and Lucy. Robin and Alice are happy – but Wish Hook still has a poisoned heart so that happy ending is not so cut and dry. Will Wish Hook get the happy ending he wants with his daughter. He can’t even stand on the same side of the road as her. This is one happy ending I want payoff on.

I want Henry, Ella, and Lucy of course. Henry to see Emma and original Hook again – and his sibling. To see Snow and Charming – and his uncle.

There’s Tiana and Naveen – and with one episode left I’d love to see how they give them whatever happy ending they can given the time. They have become closer after the curse breaking. He’s even giving her advice on how to help the people after the curse breaks. If not for Naveen, Tiana wouldn’t have gotten the courage to give an impassioned speech to help Robin and Alice get what they need to help Henry, Regina, Rumple, and Wish Hook in the Wish Realm.

Oh – plot device again – some one has a RARE magic bean. Where are these magic beans coming from? The show has made it clear they are rare – yet here we have had so many this season used as plot devices. There can’t be that many, writers! Whatever.

Back to my original point though – who deserves their happy ending? Who will get it – and who won’t? That is the ultimate question that will be answered next week.

The Ultimate Cliffhanger


Going into the series finale, we get a cliffhanger of massive proportions teasing what is to come. When the episode ends, we see Robin and Alice with Tiana’s food truck- The Rollin’ Bayou – driving through the portal that the magic bean created and on the way into Storybrooke. Yes, Storybrooke. The small town in Maine that has a choke on our hearts as much as any other character. It’s a character in and of itself.

So, next week – Storybrooke. I’m ready. I’m so ready, but I’m also not.

Seeing the “Entering Storybrooke” sign brought tears to my eyes. It’s fitting to end the show where it began. In the town that started it all.

My only question is – will all these wish realm characters that were in Hyperion Heights get to leave and end up in Storybrooke with everyone else, or will they be forgotten?

As noted, we know next week we WILL see Emma, Original Hook, their child, Snow, Charming, Prince Neal, and many others still in Storybrooke. I’m very excited to see how they wrap it all up. I’m also not ready to let it go.

It will be an emotional thing, and it will take time for me to process. Seven years of stories – and one episode to finish up this epic tale. I’m a case of emotions and you’ll get to read them all next week. How far will I go? I have no clue!


In conclusion, “Homecoming” provides us with returns of a few characters you wouldn’t expect, and having Andrew J. West and Jared Gilmore appear on screen together – something unfathomable without the wish realm. And – a Cruella/Henry sword fight I didn’t know I ever needed to see.

You get this showdown between Rumple and his Wish Realm self – which could easily be a metaphor for Rumple defeating the beast within himself so he can find his way back to Belle. Will he get the ending he wants? Or is there some twist here that leaves Rumple lonely and alive forever? Will love win here?

Who deserves a happy ending?

What will be the fates of these characters we’ve followed for seven seasons? That’s what next week is for and I’m already emotional over it.

Here’s the promo for the series finale – “Leaving Storybrooke”. I’m already emotional seeing Snow and Charming – I’m ready, but I’m not.

The Once Upon A Time series finale airs Friday night, May 18 at 8/7c on ABC.

Currently a writer for The Resident, but I have many interests that include country music, fantasy and science fiction movies. I'm just your typical southern girl who was raised by a single dad. A Chris Wood and Matt Czuchry fangirl forever.